TWO DISTINCT PHASES OF THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
A Comparison Between the Rapture (Pre-tribulational Coming) and the Second Advent (Post-tribulational Coming)
RAPTURE--before the tribulation (Revelation 3:10). The church will be kept out of that hour or time of testing which will come upon the whole world. [editor note at wbc- if you do not have the rapture here, it must be somewhere, because the church is gone after chapter 3, until chapter 19) If you disagree with the rapture here, please pray tell where you place it in Revelation]
SECOND ADVENT--after the tribulation (Matthew 24:29-30; Revelation 19:11-16).
RAPTURE--in a "moment" (Greek-"atom," a split-second, literally "uncut, indivisible," we divide and cut time into years and months and days and hours and minutes and seconds, but the smallest measure of time is an "atom" of time which we might call a split-second), in the blinking on an eye (1 Cor. 15:52). It is very sudden. It will happen before people will realize it is happening (even as it was with Enoch, see Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5). An example of a man being raptured away suddenly so as to be seen no more is found in Acts 8:39 (where the Greek word for rapture, harpazo, is used).
SECOND ADVENT--slow enough for people to realize and see what is happening (Matthew 24:27; Rev. 1:7; Psalm 2:2; Rev. 19:19). The second coming of Christ to the earth will be visible and obvious to all. No one will miss it.
3. DATE (THE DAY ON WHICH IT WILL TAKE PLACE)
RAPTURE--UNKNOWN DAY. The Lord Jesus will surely come for His Church (John 14:3) but we do not know when (compare 1 John 2:28 and 3:2 where the subjunctive mood is used indicating that while the fact of His coming is sure, the time of His coming is unsure). The rapture is imminent which means that He may come at any time. See Allen Beechick's discussion of the UNKNOWN DAY in the book The Pretribulation Rapture).
SECOND ADVENT--KNOWN DAY. The date of the second coming can be calculated to the very day. It will occur 2520 days (7 years, or 84 months, each month made up of 30 days) from the time that Antichrist makes a treaty with Israel (Daniel 9:27) and it will occur 1260 days (3½ years) from the time of the abomination of desolation (Matt. 24:15). See Revelation 11:2,3; 12:6,14; 13:5; 2 Thess. 2:8 (Antichrist destroyed at 2nd coming). Of course, this "known day" cannot be known or calculated by anyone until the treaty is signed (Dan. 9:27).
4. PRECEDING SIGNS
RAPTURE--NONE (Tit. 2:13; Rev. 22:20; etc.). He may come for His Church at any time and nothing needs to be fulfilled before He comes. The only thing we are waiting for is the completion of the church (Matt. 16:18; Rom. 11:25), and only God knows when this will be.
SECOND ADVENT--MANY (Matthew 24:3-28). There is much that must be fulfilled before Christ returns to the earth (such as all the events in Revelation 6-18).
ILLUSTRATION: The rapture can be likened to Thanksgiving (a holiday without signs) and the second advent can be likened to Christmas (which is preceded by all kinds of signs). When you see the signs of Christmas (decorations, lights, trees, etc.) then you can be sure that Thanksgiving will take place at any time. If Christmas is near then Thanksgiving must be even nearer!
RAPTURE--Christ seen only by the church (1 Thess. 4:17; 1 John 3:2).
SECOND ADVENT--Christ seen by every eye (Rev. 1:7; Matthew 24:24-27).
RAPTURE--in the air (1 Thess. 4:17).
SECOND ADVENT--on the earth (Zech. 14:4; Acts 1:11).
7. ASSOCIATED JUDGEMENT
RAPTURE--the judgment seat of Christ (2 Tim. 4:1,8; 1 Pet. 1:7).
SECOND ADVENT--destruction of the wicked armies (Rev. 19:17-19) and the judgment of living nations (Matthew 25:31-46).
8. IDENTITY OF THOSE REMOVED FROM THE EARTH AND THOSE REMAINING ON THE EARTH
RAPTURE--Believers are removed; unbelievers remain (1 Thess. 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15:51-53; John 14:3).
SECOND ADVENT--Unbelievers are removed; believers remain (Matthew 24:37-41 and Luke 17:34-37). See Matthew 24:38 where the unbelieving world in Noah's day was taken away in judgment.
9. PURPOSE OF CHRIST'S COMING
RAPTURE--to receive His bride (John 14:3; 1 Thess. 4:17).
SECOND ADVENT--to receive His kingdom (Luke 19:22; Rev. chapters 19-20)
10. THE BODIES OF LIVING BELIEVERS
RAPTURE--church age believers are raised (those who have died) and are translated and "changed" (those who are living) with the result that they have immortal, resurrection bodies (1 Cor. 15:52-53; 1 Thess. 4:17).
SECOND ADVENT--believers who survive the tribulation enter the kingdom in natural bodies (Matthew 25:23), and these believers will eventually bear children and re-populate the earth.
end of MBC article
....is a Greek word used in relation to His 2nd coming in its twofold aspect. It is a term that speaks of someone's "coming" or more specifically, their "presence." Importantly for the context of this discussion (of Christ's 2nd coming and its towfold aspect) and its use in the NT....we must first recognize that parousia can refer to any individual's coming or presence with reference to a specific place or people. To illustrate, in 1 Cor. 16:17 Paul writes: of "the coming (parousia) of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus."
With regard to the Parousia/Coming of the Lord Jesus. Its use refers to both His second coming at the end of tribulation period (Matt.. 24:27, 37, 39), and to His coming/parousia to rapture His Church before the 7 year tribulation (1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 2:19; 5:23).
So, the Parousia is the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and with its use in the NT we have to pay attention to the context, meaning who is experiencing His presence in that particular text, to determine if its use refers to His snatching away the Church (1 Thess. 4:13-18)for them to be in His presence, or the actual 2nd coming where He sets His feet upon the earth and sets up His millennial kingdom (Matt. 24-25, Rev. 19:11, 20:4-6).
This is an important idea to note, that His presence and the use of parousia does not mean that if you see the word parousia with regard to Christ and His 2nd coming, that the use of the TERM itself designates the when or circumstances of His presence, by its use,... but instead designates His prescence among them who experience His presence at that time. To clarify, when His parousia is in the air, the saints experience His presence. And when He stands upon the earth, the use of parousia is still speaking of His presence, but in a different context.
There are men who see and define the term parousia merely as an eschatological term and cannot see beyond its use in more than one context, and therefore wrongly assume that wherever you see the "parousia" related to Christ in his 2nd advent, that it is a defining term and limits that "parousia" to a single event, when the evidence of scripture uses it with regard to His presence 'in the air' as well as 'on the earth.' Such men fail to see Christ present with the saints in the air, and then His presence on the earth at the end of the 7 year tribulation period. In short, it is not sound exegesis to misuse "parousia" by defining it that way.
With that in view, we find that in a day of partial exegesis and incomplete study leads men to increasingly deny this doctrine of a twofold coming of Christ in His 2nd advent. We shall now explore another example of how this plays out... regarding...
some men that previously held, but now deny the pre trib rapture:
We recently read a blog by someone who once apparently held to, but is now denying, the pre trib Rapture. All true Christians believe in the Rapture, it is a matter of what they are willing to call it and when it takes place, that is at issue.
The current stream of pre trib Rapture deniers has some commonality. One must read carefully to see the apparent theological motivations behind such denials.
We now explore one such exhibition of this, the above referenced blog is by Alan Smith at Catch the Fire Church in DFW. He recently wrote a blog titled Why I do not hope for a Rapture. (by the way, with this title, one can see that is it not exegesis that determines his position, but what he...well....wants), One quote from the blog suffices to illustrate:
As new creation people, our desire is not to escape earth and go to heaven, but rather to see God’s will done on earth as it is in heaven. As new creation people, our longing is for old things to pass away and all things to become new.
It is here where we uncover the motivation...and we must pay attention and be wise. Of course assigning motivation to another person is a dangerous thing. Yet because such authors leave their theology so open ended, we must discern some observations amidst the present confusing hour.
First, this author and others that have taken this pathway, seem to assume that the ultimate goal of them that hold to the rapture is to hunker down and escape trouble and get to heaven. It is a kind of looking down the nose at those deemed to be weak believers who just want to get away to heaven. Such aren't living up to their "kingdom now" and "new creation" position. Pay attention to this underlying thinking, it is rampant in such circles.
Let us correct something up front. In truth, the believer in the pre-trib Rapture desires to be with Christ, to see Him, and this is to maintain one's first love. The believer yearns for His coming, which the Bible calls the Blessed Hope. This is a very different thing than mere escapism.
Next, there is also an underlying theology we need to discern, let us pay attention to his "new creation people" buzzword terminology. We have to pay attention here. New creation thinking, is akin to dominion theology. This is a concept where the church seeks impact in the world of believers especially, with a mindset in mind of increasing the kingdom. Here we must be detailed, for all believers want to see themselves and others increase in the things of God. But their emphasis has unbiblical foundations.
What is amiss is the emphasis and bypath being taken. Much of the thinking of this movement tends towards making things better and taking dominion for the king or his people in some manner. Personal prosperity, and removal from conflict is manifold. This is part and parcel of the positive confession movement, that takes dominion by its words.
What accompanies such thinking is apart from a biblical hope of Christ's coming for His own in the air, ie... the Blessed Hope of believers, and hunkers down on earth for a kingdom here and now. This movement is ignorant of the character of this age, and how it ends. Basically they are ignorant of prophecy and thereby due to lazy exegesis (Smith's article is very lazy on its treatment of Matt. 24-not a careful author) they find a way to dismiss the pre-trib Rapture. It doesn't fit.
The whole charismatic movement is on display here, whose thinking is varied and hard to pin down. But if we notice "we desire to see God's will done on earth" we make progress in grasping where Alan and those like him are coming from. It is inferred that if we hold to the pre-trib Rapture, then that is not God's will because such will perhaps fail to press God's will on earth here and now - to expand "the kingdom". Weak believers are seen by these teachers to be those who seem to be afraid of the present condition and want to escape it, when in reality they should be "expanding their kingdom" or the like. There is a spiritual pride, that is based on false teaching.
We must stop here and remember that seeking "Thy will be done" on earth, apart from the presence of the Savior ruling from Jerusalem in the Millennium, is to evidence a Biblical illiteracy (or laziness) of prophetic scripture. Such emphasis misses the character of this age,... more on that below.
This is so important to catch-and equally hard to explain. We would suggest here that what we have in these charismatic pre-trib Rapture deniers, is that their position motivates them in a direction of dominion. Because pre-trib Rapture theology teaches the very opposite to their kingdom now thinking, they must tear down this doctrine. If they could see the Bible trends toward apostasy in this age, and a catching out of the believers before judgment upon the earth, they would have their whole emphasis exposed as errant.
How can one be looking to His coming, whether escapist or not, when one wants to be "expanding the kingdom" here and now. Yes, we all want to see more people (truly) saved, and Christians walk in the power and grace of Christ. But what we deny is the pathway and emphasis of the "new creation" people.
Whether this religious philosophy is called by that name or by "dominion now," it has the same motivation to be against the pre-trib Rapture, and is ultimately not determined by exegesis of the text, but by the implications of holding bad theological positions. The pre-trib Rapture exposes much of this kingdom now thinking. We should not be surprised at the present move away this precious truth in such circles, it was inevitable.
It is quite possible that the very thinking that seeks to build the kingdom here and now, may find itself ere the end, to be a part of building that religious thing of the end which is judged by God. We don't mean here that every pre-trib Rapture denier is headed for judgement - or that the pre-trib Rapture doctrine must be held to be saved. But what we do emphasize is that one can see in all this how the pre-trib Rapture theology just doesn't fit what these people are after. Good intentions are just good intentions if destitute of truth. Bad thinking and misguided desires can be a powerful motivation for jettisoning sound theology.
To elaborate further on an important point, let us examine how their thinking fails to recognize the character of the present age, that the King is at present rejected. We live in the mystery form of the kingdom, where the false and the true (Matthew 13) are mingled. The king is away and instead of steady growth of the kingdom as per the "new creation people" and dominion thinkers, it is a time of His rejection and to await His return with joy while suffering. Yes a church is being called out, but called out to wait for Him, not to take dominion in his absence.
What is expanding is the leaven, and the little seed has become a large tree with birds of the air nesting in its branches. These are not positive things, Matthew 13 must be studied here but time and space do not permit. We recommend the following:
Hopefully the reader can see why is this so important? These matters aren't essentials with regard to salvation, yet they do affect the orientation of believers to the world in which they live. And that has a huge impact.
If we believe in the pre-trib Rapture, our overall theology -of necessity- reflects the following, each of which is adversely affected if we deny the Rapture:
1. We tend towards being separated from the world (not self righteously), and even from the world-church which such deniers are often found building.
2. We look for the coming of Christ, it is our Blessed Hope; rather than dreading the tribulation or building a kingdom. Call it escapism, we call it "desire-to-see-Him-ism"
3. We realize that rearranging the chairs on the Titanic is fruitless.
4. We do good works in the sphere in which the Lord places us, but aren't motivated toward overemphasis on politics or social repair or social justice or the "kingdom". Some of these may be good things in their place, but they aren't our calling.
5. We recognize the highest good we can do is give men the gospel. This is opposed to the thinking that gives men testimonies of various sorts concerning God's Kingdom dealings...such things are often nebulous and empty reports, and miss the cross.
6. We recognize social reform redeems no one. In its religous form, healings, miracles, and such, do not form part of the atonement (another related and weighty error)
7. We see a separation between human government and the church, as separate entities in God's overall program.
8. We see that the kingdom today is in its mystery form (Matthew 13) with Christ having been rejected. We are thereby protected from bypaths of trying to sort it all out, we instead seek to be faithful in our sphere, according to the light we have, and let the Lord's angels sort the wheat from the tares - we cannot.
9. We don't seek dominion, we are strangers and pilgrims. We are dead to the world and the world is dead to us.
10. We see that the church is not appointed to the coming wrath; this is the pre-trib Rapture position.
11. We will be careful about the "kingdom" and what we call it and believe about it, in this age, see #8 again.
12. We recognize that the age in which we live is the age of the rejection of the King.
13. We hold to a literal millennium to come, where Christ reigns, and righteousness rules. NOT NOW.
14. We believe that this is man's day, and is allowed to run its course, and the church is merely passing through a scene of pending wrath. The Day of the Lord is coming, which begins with God's wrath (after the church is gone), and goes on into the millennium. The Day of the Lord being the time when God publicly judges.
We would suggest that in some manner, the denial of the pre-trib Rapture and the emphasis on a holistic kind of new creation/dominion thinking, is likely the Social Gospel in new garb. Time will tell this out to what extent it is true. Ever men get on bypaths away from Christ and the cross.
The Social Gospel is one where man on earth does good, and improves things. It is a movement away from personal conversion and accompanying separation unto Christ...and is a movement towards social reform of some sort. In the present time that reform in religious "new creation" garb seems to be a kind of "build the kingdom now" thinking, forgetting the King is rejected in this age. Shudder.
This social reform in its religious bent, can even make unregenerate men "praisers and worshippers", it gets them going on mission trips, it pats them on the back, and it teaches them to possess some possessions related to earthly prosperty, whether materially or "spiritually". It frequently gets them into the fold apart from conversion, hoping to influence them with regard to the "kingdom" and the New Creation mindset. It is the wheat and the tares (on steroids). They look for signs and wonders, and not for.....Him.